Tag Archives: journalism

crowdsourcing patronage

Just what is journalism going to look like in the future?

It’s a question that’s been bouncing around my head for a while, and articulated in various pieces by Ben Thompson (in a nichification process), my friend Eric Hydrick, and others.

Eric brought up the idea of supporting “special” journalism through services like Patreon.

I think that’s a start … but still limits – as do paywalls, subscriptions, etc – informing the populace to those who care enough to pay intentionally and specifically for that publication / journalist / etc.

I think an improvement upon that is a bucket approach. I outlined one such possible technique in my recent critique of Pi-hole:

Maybe there needs to be a per-hour, per-article, per-something option – a penny for an hour, for example (which, ftr, comes out to a monthly fee of about $7)- so that viewers can toss some scrilla towards the creators, but aren’t permanently encumbered by subscriptions they’ll soon forget about

I’ll go out on a limb and predict “journalism”, as we have known it for hundreds of years, is going to completely disappear in the next 10 years. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s completely going away (though, with the general willful ignorance of people…maybe it will). It does mean, though, that it’s going to be radically different in form.

With the rise of decentralized (and, nowrecentralized) publishing with widespread adoption of the world wide web, everyone can (and, maybe, should) be a publisher.

The overwhelming majority of publishers are not receiving anything from their writing – except personal satisfaction (that includes myself .. in 20+ years of having websites, blogs, etc, I’ve made about $35 online). And publishing for “free” (ie, self-funded) should always be an option: as a content creator, it should always be up to you as to whether you wish to charge for what you’ve made.

But if you want the possibility of getting paid for your work, that should be an option, too: and while you might be “worth” subscribing to, the odds are very good you are not. And that leaves a quandary: how can you get paid for your work (if you want), without encumbering your audience into either leaving instantly, or succumbing to pressure to subscribe.

Which is why I think a bucket approach could work well – you’d know how much you had available in your balance, recharging would be simple (could even be automated – hit a threshold, recharge to some preset amount), and you’d know exactly who was getting your money, and, more importanly, for what – it’s not some ambiguous “subscription” to a “site”, but paying for precisely the content you see (or want to see).

In many ways, it’s extending the Patreon idea, which is really just a modern reimagining of patronage, from mere individual shows, sites, etc, down to a granularity of specific pages, articles, images, etc.

And let’s not even talk about the analytics that could be performed on payments and page views under such a model: identifying regions that are interested in certain content, audiences that like certain things, what are immediate turn-offs, etc. Incorporate some form of solid feedback/interaction mechanism, and you could possibly develop healthy gamification of your site: maybe even waiving monetary contribution if you hit certain levels of interaction on the site.

Active community building via people who actually care (and that just happens to fund the service).

Now that would be something.

germline by t c mcarthy

As promised when I finished Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy, I did read Germline by T C McCarthy.

I wasn’t able to get into the second book of the trilogy (Exogene), and haven’t attempted the last (Chimera) – but Germline was amazing.

A quick disclaimer first – this book is most certainly NOT for the faint of stomach, or those who cannot ignore vulgarity.

Taking place in a not-too-distant future, T C McCarthy takes us into the on-again-off-again underground hot war being fought somewhere in Kazakhstan. We find our main character, Oscar, a journalist for Stars and Stripes, spinning out of control in a drug-induced stupor but getting that “one last chance” to earn his place as a journalist. Oscar hasn’t paid his dues, but has managed to make friends among the “important” players on the US side of the war.

This book reminded me of a novel I read years ago that took place in the Vietnam War, written by a vet of that arena – it’s visceral, gritty, and the words seem to fly off the page into your eyes, converting your mind into the exact place and time Oscar is in when he’s in it. You are there with Oscar as he suits up, plugs-in, shoots-up, crawls through the subterrene with the Marines unit he’s assigned to.

This is perhaps the single best future scifi I’ve ever read that doesn’t require an entirely alternate universe to exist.